Truth is simple, but understanding is complex. The tremendous, essential realities lay in front of our eyes at every moment. But our eyes are shut, and our heads are twisted away. We live on the surface, perceiving reflections and images, reacting to events, striving to make sense. The simple and obvious reality lies outside of us and inside of us, but it is elusive. As we advance, it retreats. Our perception itself distorts what we see. The tools we have at our disposal are blunt.

Understanding is a simple, universal, and under-utilized capacity, which we all have. There is no continuity between ignorance and understanding. Ignorance is the domination of a single truth, which subjugates all others. It holds tight to its minimal and narrow conceptions. Understanding liberates from bondage to appearances. It breaks shells, reveals secrets, creates possibilities. A single inspiration is a resolution of an enigma, and knits together the torn fabric of our experience.

Ignorance is sustainable, and it’s quite possible to live out one’s existence in a similitude of vitality, not ever seeing beyond the petty formulations of one’s original topography. This half-life can be relatively pleasurable, but only through a sustained effort to suppress the vital and self-evident reality, which continually emerges. Ignorance reveals its existence through discordant signals: the grind of disconnection, the clang of fear, the stench of mediocrity. These tokens of defeat are the key to our freedom, if we recognize them. If we don’t, we are enslaved by automatism. Our very identity is under occupation. In our heart is an alien power. With or without our consent, it has inserted itself, and we have submitted to it.





Understanding is founded in a commitment to challenge the fixity in one’s perception, which produces illusory imagery. No insight can substitute for the love of truth, which brings to bear the totality of one’s capacity for perception. Giving all that one has, taking in all that one perceives: this dual action of discernment can penetrate the heart of distinct entities.

Raise up the object of understanding, viewing it from every perspective. Turn to the parts that are unclear or uncomfortable, not just those that are intriguing or satisfying. What are the causes and effects, the origins and purposes? What is its place in the world: in nature, politics, and morality? What are the secret hopes and intentions?

At the periphery are conditional and ephemeral qualities, but every entity has a core truth, which animates and sustains it. See the circumstances, but then see through them, to the fundamental and universal truths at the center.

Understanding is not primarily an intellectual endeavor. It is a transformative process, in which one reaches towards, embraces, and, and least for a moment, becomes the alien being. The rigidity of narrow formulations softens, and dissolves. The schismatic division between subjects is healed.

If and when understanding is achieved, it is still only one expression of a broader human movement toward healing, connection, and unity. Understanding, acting, creating, relation, and being: all that we do, and all that we can do, is equally necessary for true reconciliation. While we each have a predilection to focus in one field, every function is necessary for the full development of every other. Understanding is a necessary but insufficient condition for depth, love, and happiness. Bringing understanding to action, in the real world of relationship, art, and society, is a nobler task; and without this, even the magical process of understanding is barren.

 

 

A cup of coffee lies on the table, steaming, aromatic, fixed there at one place and time. Drink it and enjoy it, if you can. It’s not just what you want, and it’s not just what it seems.

There’s a meaning in there somewhere, a core truth. Lift it up in your mind and look at it from every perspective, until you find the cohesive element which defines it and animates it. Seeing through circumstances, you can uncover the fundamental elements that constitute it. What is its origin? Under what circumstances, and for what purpose, was it created? What is its place in the political and economic and moral order? Who and what interests does it serve?

The present moment can be redeemed from superficiality. Behind the static semblance, the living, fiery truth is there. Interpenetrating awareness illuminates the present. The bits and pieces of our experience reunite, and even the simple perception is infused with vitality.